Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Creative Right Brain vs Logical Left Brain Myth


One of our classmates emailed me to ask me 2 questions about our brain. They are great questions and I like to share with everybody.

Question 1: From the class of Neuro-Mentalogy, we now understand that the myth about the "creative right brain" vs. the "logical left brain" is incorrect. Does it means that ONLY the "Creative vs. Logical Classification" is incorrect/over-simplified?

The Left-Right Brain Functions Model is over-simplified and misleading.

The Left Brain is responsible for logical, analytical jobs while the Right Brain is for spatial and emotional is not correct. From modern neuroscience researches, the brain functions are too complicated to be simply divided into left and right brain. For most of the tasks we perform, it is the result of co-ordination of many areas of the brain, both in the left and right brain.

Let's give you 3 examples to illustrate the point:

1. Both sides of our brain handle emotions, not just by the right brain as suggested by the Left-Right Brain Functions Model. When emotions are triggered by some visual images, the right side reacts more than the left side. However, when the emotions are triggered by words, the left side reacts more. I am not saying only the left or right side reacts, both sides react.

Furthermore, researches indicated that the Left Brain mediates Positive Emotions like happiness and the Right Brain plays a role in Negative Emotions like sorrow, anxiety, etc.

Both Brains handle Emotions!

2. In a neuroscience research, people are asked whether one objects is below or above another one, and how far they are apart from each others. According to the Left-Right Brain Model, these 2 activities are done by the right brain as this is a spatial function. The answer is no. The former one is done by the Left Brain while the latter one is done by the Right Brain! The first kind of activities is the "Categorical Spatial Reasoning" (i.e. above or below, left or right, front or back, etc) is done by an area in the Left Brain. The latter kind of activities is the "Coordinate Spatial Reasoning" and is done by area in the Right Brain.

Both Brains handle Spatial Functions!

3. Generating visual image in our mind is believed to be a Right Brain function according to the Left-Right Brain Functions Model. This simple task is a very complex brain operation that involves at least 5 parts of our brain, both in Left and Right Brain!

Both Brains handle nearly Every Functions!

Question 2: I also heard of the saying that the process of the two brains are different -- the "right brain" is for processing the big picture while the "left brain" is for processing the details. Is it true?

The Right Brain for Big Picture and the Left Brain for Details is again another myth. Some people believe that the Right Brain is for Big Picture because of the "Right Brain is for Spatial Function" myth. From the above Example 2, you understand that spatial functions are done by both side of our brain. So, we need both brains to give us Big Pictures and Details.

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